It’s been at the centre of a geographic crossroads for centuries and now the country of Georgia is in the middle of a technological partnership.
American alt-fi company Snapcard and Georgian e-pay service UniPAY announced this week they are offering a new cryptocurrency account to serve Georgian businesses.
“We think there’s a lot more value in undeveloped markets,” Snapcard founder and CEO Michael Dunworth explained from San Francisco.
The UniPAY account enables users to send and receive Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and convert between local currency and digital currency. UniPAY will also be offering Bitcoin as a payment method for retail and online merchants.
So far, the users are local mobile carriers, internet service providers, airlines, utility companies and gaming sites.
Dunworth, who is based in San Francisco, says it’s exciting to help citizens of a small, developing country where Europe meets Asia join the global marketplace.
“They can now buy goods and services at e-commerce sites that accept Bitcoin around the world,” he said.
UniPAY will initially turn on the option for 55,000 fully verified members of its 148,000 registered users.
The transactions will happen at a fraction of the cost of traditional bank fees, Dunworth noted. “It’s very cost-efficient for the end consumer.”
Koba Kurdadze, CEO of UniPAY, says the service will also be a boon to visitors to Georgia who can’t or don’t want to use their international cards.
“The Bitcoin option will help break down those frictions and barriers,“ he said in a release, noting it’s easy to register for a UniPAY account and load it with funds online or at a supporting outlet.
Dunworth says it’s the first deal where Snapcard has seen its back-end services “white-labelled” by another firm. It has the “block-chain technology” or infrastructure to make it one of many such partnerships, he added.
“I can send money like I am sending an email,” he said. “That’s one of the beautiful things about it.”